2014 College Preview: Ivy League

BA breaks down the Ivy League, including our projections for regional teams, player of the year, pitcher of the year and top prospects.

TOP 10 PROSPECTS, 2014 DRAFT
1. Brent Jones, rhp, Cornell
2. Cameron Mingo, rhp, Princeton (2015)
3. Joey Donino, rhp, Columbia
4. Chris Cruz, of, Cornell
5. Tyler Servais, c, Princeton
6. Jordan Serena, of, Columbia
7. Alec Keller, of, Princeton
8. Kellen Urbon, rhp, Cornell
9. David Speer, lhp, Columbia
10. Jeff Keller, of, Dartmouth

Ivy League

Baseball Members (First Year): Rolfe—Brown (1948), Dartmouth (1930), Harvard (1948), Yale (1930). Gehrig—Columbia (1930), Cornell (1930), Pennsylvania (1930), Princeton (1930).

Checking out: None.

Conference Tournament: Best-of-three series between division champions. May 3-4 at team with best Ivy League record.

Team to Beat: Columbia.

Coach Brett Boretti’s Lions went 16-4 to run away with the Gehrig Division title by five games last year, swept Dartmouth in the league championship series, then eliminated powerful New Mexico at the Fullerton Regional. They return the league’s best pitching duo in seniors Joey Donino and David Speer. A savvy mid-80s lefty who throws four pitches for strikes, Speer (6-3, 2.34) is a proven workhorse. Columbia should remain strong in the middle of the diamond, as Sr. C Mike Fischer and Sr. SS Aaron Silbar are defensive stalwarts, while speed merchant Jordan Serena covers abundant ground in center and makes the offense go. The centerpiece of the lineup is 27-year-old Jr. DH Joey Falcone (.331/.394/.520), a Marine Corps veteran.

Player of the Year: Jeff Keller, of, Dartmouth.

A smart player who rates as the Ivy’s best hitter, Keller (.369/.453/.702, 6 HR, 41 RBI) led the nation in doubles per game last year and ranked fifth in slugging.

Pitcher of the Year: Joey Donino, rhp, Columbia.

Donino had a breakout junior year, ranking 10th in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (10.96) thanks to a power curveball and an 88-92 heater.

Freshman of the Year: Chasen Ford, rhp, Yale.

The Southern California native is a strong, projectable strike-thrower with an 87-91 fastball that bumps 92 and a promising breaking ball.

David Speer

David Speer (Photo by Gene Boyars)

Notable Storylines: The Gehrig Division looks like the stronger half of the Ivy this year, as Cornell figures to be Columbia’s main rival for the league crown. The Big Red believes it has the deepest pitching staff in coach Bill Walkenbach’s six-year tenure, with six pitchers that have conference experience, led by Jr. RHPs Brian McAfee and Brent Jones. The latter ranks as the league’s top prospect thanks to a 92-96 fastball, a sharp curve and a 6-foot-3 pitcher’s frame. Cornell’s lineup returns seven starters, but the key might be whether or not powerful Sr. OF Chris Cruz can return to his sophomore year form (when he slugged 12 homers) after a down junior campaign . . . Princeton is young but talented on the mound, with three underclassmen penciled into the weekend rotation, headlined by So. RHP Cameron Mingo, a projectable 6-foot-4, 185-pounder with feel for three quality pitches. Jr. C Tyler Servais, the son of former big leaguer and current Angels executive Scott Servais, has the leadership and catch-and-throw skills to help the young arms along . . . Dartmouth should be the team to beat in the Rolfe Division again, but its pitching staff needs to prove itself, as none of its three projected weekend starters pitched more than 22 innings last year. But the offense should be potent, especially if Keller can get some support from veteran corner infielders Dustin Selzer and Nick Lombardi, who each have emerging pop.